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Tech Tuesday: Using Gamification to Capture Attendees' Attention

Kaitlyn Tatulli |

Female attendee sitting at table looking uninterested in event Have you ever seen your attendees zone out at your events—you know, that zombie-deadpan look? Chances are your attendees do zone out at your events and it’s not necessarily your fault. Recent research has shown that because of the digital age we live in, people’s attention spans are steadily decreasing. In 2000, people’s attention spans averaged 12 seconds, and in 2018 people’s spans decreased to less than that of a goldfish—8 secondsSo how do you consistently capture your attendee’s attention during the entirety of your event? Event gamification may be the key.

What is gamification?


Gamification is a technique that involves applying the fundamental structure of gaming to fields outside of the gaming world. More specifically, game designers use data-driven techniques to successfully engage players, despite their attention span.

Generally, gamification is founded on ten game mechanics: points, levels missions, badges, leaderboards, unlocks, events feed, notifications, quiz, and progress. These game mechanics engage and motivate players and can be applied to fields outside of gaming, like the event industry, to amplify an existing experience.

How can I use gamification at my events?

Event gamification is the specific use of the ten-gaming mechanics, to engage attendees and achieve goals at events. In other words, event gamification is all about increasing attendee engagement through play and competition.

gamification strategy

As an event planner, you can add gamification to your next event to bring play to networking by using technology or in-person interactions, or a combination of the two.

Mobile Gamification:

Event professionals taking a selfie together on a mobile phone

An easy way to achieve event gamification at your next event is through mobile gamification.

Because people pick up their phones over 1,500 times a week, chances are your attendees will look at their phones during your event. Instead of distressing or trying to stop this, take advantage of people’s mobile devices by engaging with attendees through their phones.

Though there are many ways to achieve mobile gamification, we curated a list of our favorites.

1. Panel Speakers or Presentations

Male panel speaker standing on stage in front of attendees

With attendee’s attention spans averaging only eight seconds, gone are the days of long, lecture-like panel presentations. To save yourself and your attendees from zoning out, you can implement mobile gamification into your presentations.

With mobile event apps you can poll or survey your attendees in real-time during a panel’s presentation. To make the presentation more engaging, have the presenter encourage attendees to post topics they would be interested in the speaker discussing. This will make the attendees feel like they are co-creating your event, which will increase their engagement.

For the question and answer portion of your event’s presentation, you can use mobile apps, like Crowd Mics, to turn attendee’s phones into microphones that synch to the PA. When called on, the attendees can speak into their phones, and their voice will be clearly projected for everyone to hear. This will encourage attendees to participate in Q/A in a fun, engaging way.

2. Booth Traffic

booth traffic at conference

Getting booth traffic, especially at larger events like tradeshows, is super important. But how do you increase traffic to your booths to make sponsors happy?

You can use mobile gamification by creating a point or a scavenger hunt game to increase your booth traffic. You can run a campaign where your attendees will collect points by checking-in to certain booths and completing surveys or polls through their mobile event app. You can reward the attendee who earns most points with some company swag or a feature on your social channels. You can even make this contest a team effort to promote networking.

3. Social Media Engagement

Event professionals taking a selfie to post to social media

Even after your event is over, you want to maintain your relationship with attendees. To ensure you do this, you can connect with your attendees on social media during your event.

Use mobile gamification on your social media platforms during your event to engage your attendees. You can host an Instagram or Facebook photo contest, where you reward the best picture of your event with a prize. You can also encourage attendees to live tweet during your event using your event hashtag and reward the attendee who tweets the most. Another way to engage attendees on social media is through Snapchat. You can create a Snapchat filter that is unique to your event and have attendees take pictures with the filter. The best photo using your filter can win a prize.

Event gamification is transforming the event industry. You can now craft fun games, particularly on mobile devices, to engage attendees, despite their goldfish attention spans. Event gamification will ultimately help you create longer-term relationships with your attendees. 

Have you used any of these gamification techniques at your events? What about other techniques? Let us know by commenting below.

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This Post was Written by Kaitlyn Tatulli

Kaitlyn Tatulli is a graduate from Fairfield University with majors in Digital Journalism and Psychology and minors in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Computer Science. Currently, she is receiving her MFA from Fairfield University. Kaitlyn...

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